Happy Day, my friends! I hope you are enjoying this beautiful change in the seasons. I would have to say that October and May are my most favorite months; it’s the ‘changing’ that I enjoy so much.
October is the treasurer of the year,Paul Laurence Dunbar, October
And all the months pay bounty to her store;
The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
And fill her brimming coffers more and more.
But she, with youthful lavishness,
Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
And decks herself in garments bold
Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold…
new on the blog
We have something from the kitchen and something from the garden/craft room for you this week!
- Make a pot of this Homemade Vegetable Broth, and you’ll never go back to store-bought again. Stash veggies that you won’t eat before they go bad and vegetable trimmings in a bag in the freezer and then use them for your broth to make it uber-economical. This post details vegetables and herbs to use and those to avoid for your broth. Freeze the broth or make it pantry stable by canning it.
- Pick up a pumpkin and, if you don’t have some already, a few succulents. Then forage in your yard for sticks, berries, pinecones, moss, etc… to make this Pumpkin Succulent Planter. Invite friends to bring their pumpkins and nature findings over for a great girl’s night craft! At the end of the year, transplant the succulents or just cut off the top of the pumpkin and place it in a pot. Want to see the making of this planter? Check out this video and pin it to your Pinterest Board for your future reference.
from the kitchen
- If you want to start canning your own jams and jellies, let this Spiced Golden Plum Jam be the first one you make. It is easy and has such a delightful flavor, redolent with cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Set aside a few jars as they make fantastic and welcome gifts!
- New jam and jelly makers will find this Jam & Jelly Making 101 post helpful.
- If you are a stock and broth maker, too, check out our Chicken Stock, Turkey Stock (perfect for turkey gravy), and Ham Stock.
- Use some of the apple bounty of this season to make some spiced Apple Butter.
- Save some of your apple butter to make these Apple Butter Bars! Oh, they are so good and very easy to make. Perfect for breakfast, mid-day snack or dessert!
- If you use honey or molasses regularly, you know that the lids can become quite attached to the jar. To prevent that, either use a small piece of plastic wrap to cover the jar before you place the lid or wipe the threads of the jar with a little bit of vegetable oil.
- Similarly, when measuring honey or molasses, either run your measuring utensil under hot water or coat it with a bit of vegetable oil before scooping out the sticky stuff.
- HOLY BEANS, BATMAN! This Brothy Beans recipe is really quite popular right now…not that I’m surprised. I honestly make a pot of these beans at least once a month, changing them up with the broth I use, whether I have a parmesan rind in the freezer, if I have tomatoes to use up, etc… It is such a versatile and delicious meal.
cleaning & organizing
- Did you know that the typical kitchen sink is home to more bacteria than the typical kitchen garbage can? The disposal is a great bacteria breeding ground, followed by the faucet handle. Soap and water are a good start, but for more effective cleaning, regularly give those areas a spritz of bleach-based cleaner. You can make your own by mixing 1 tablespoon of bleach with 1 quart of water.
- While we are talking kitchen bacteria, a recent study at Duke found that the structure of the sponge, with all its nooks and crannies, is a better breeding environment for bacteria than a petri dish. If you use a sponge, plan to replace it every 1-2 weeks, microwave it or boil it in between, and keep it away from raw meat.
from the craft room
- I published this Twists & Cables Knit Hat last week but didn’t include the video in the post. If you want to see the step-by-step of making the hat, you can save this pin to your Pinterest Board for your future reference.
- Use faux copper paint to update an ordinary log bin or metal tub! Perfect for fall decorating.
- Do you have one of those Candlewick Bedspreads languishing in your attic? Turn it into charming and unique hand towels!
on my nightstand
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I am currently reading The Cellist by Daniel Silva. If you’ve read his books in the past, you know the protagonist, Gabriel Allon. This picks up on Gabriel’s latest ‘situation’, but what is rather interesting is that it is set during the Covid pandemic. I’m only a quarter of the way through it and enjoying it.
Well, we are seventy-five percent of the way through the year, and I am eighty-three percent of the way through my reading goal of thirty books this year. Here are the twenty-five books I’ve read thus far and my quick thumbs up 👍🏻, thumbs down 👎🏻…or somewhere in between 👉🏻.
- Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz 👎🏻 really dragged on; I quit reading with about 100 pages left.
- The Plot, Jean Korelitz👉🏻 good story, but a predictable ending
- Black-Eyed Susan, Susan Heaberlin👉🏻 hard to follow
- Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby👍🏻 a charming, light-hearted tale
- Hour of the Witch, Chris Bohjalian👍🏻 👍🏻quick moving
- Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell👍🏻👍🏻 loved the weave of history and a good mystery
- Inspector of the Dead, David Morrell 👍🏻👍🏻 a good follow-up to the previous book, but I needed a break before I tackled the third. I will get to it soon.
- Brotherhood of the Rose, David Morrell 👍🏻 Same author as above, but completely different premise. Much more of a contemporary spy/counterintelligence novel.
- Pompeii, Robert Harris 👍🏻👍🏻 I read this historical fiction right before we toured Pompeii, and it was a great primer.
- The Black House, Peter May👍🏻👍🏻These next three books are set on several islands in the Hebrides, off the coast of Scotland. I read them right before I spent several days there with my dear friend. They are murder mysteries, but more than that, they really gave me a sense of the place.
- The Lewis Man, Peter May👍🏻👍🏻
- The Chess Men, Peter May👍🏻👍🏻
- The Lincoln Highway, Amor Towles👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 It has been a LONG time since I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed this one. It has a Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer feel to it, in that the main characters are young men coming of age in the 1950s. It is just a lovely story with dynamic and complicated characters. This was my first Amor Towles book, and I was a bit sad when I finished it. His writing style is just beautiful. So, I immediately jumped into…
- A Gentleman in Moscow, Amore Towles👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻If you like Dickens-type novels, sweeping stories with interesting characters, you’ll love this one. This story focuses on Count Rostov, who has been confined to a hotel in Moscow, and the associated staff and residents of the hotel. Once again, Towles’s writing style and character development speak to me.
- Rules of Civility, Amor Towles👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 I really did like it, but not quite as much as the other two. Set in 1938 New York, the main character is a young woman who is trying to navigate the time and characters of her orbit.
- Cloud Cuckoo Land👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 This is a challenging book to review. I am typically averse to ‘science fiction’ and almost discarded it because the jacket referred to a character living in the future on a spaceship. If you are similarly averse to futuristic novels, do not let that deter you! Trust me on this! This book wraps up several different characters in different settings and time periods so neatly and with a common thread that really comes together at the end. Several nice ‘aha’ moments and a clear message at the end.
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog 👍🏻👍🏻I very much enjoyed it. Not gonna lie; some of the philosophical ramblings lost me a bit. But I still found it a charming, sometimes humorous book with an uplifting message. They are lovely and sympathetic main characters.
- My Brilliant Friend 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 This book introduced me to the term ‘bildungsroman,’ a novel dealing with a person’s formative years. That’s exactly what this book was, and it was delightful. The book is set in Naples and begins in the 1950s. It is book one of four, so that’s always a good thing for my book queue!
- Chances Are👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 I loved Empire Falls and was glad to find more books by Rich Russo. I really did enjoy this book. He has a lovely way with words that articulated the metamorphosis of each character from young men to their now sixty-six-year-old selves. The main characters are three long-time friends who reunite 40+ years after they graduated from college and share the mystery of a disappearance of a dear friend.
- The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick 👍🏻👍🏻 An easy-to-read, sweet book about a widower finding out who his late wife really was and finding a renewal of his life in the process. I rolled my eyes at times given some of the implausible leaps taken, but ‘charming’ nevertheless.
- Because I loved Empire Falls and Chances Are, I figured I would Nobody’s Fool, also by Rich Russo. I got about halfway through and needed a change. I’m not ready to call it quits, but I guess it wasn’t what I wanted to read then. Like all his other books, you can’t help but have a tender spot for his characters, flaws and all. It’s a simple, rambling story of Sully and those around him who live in small-town upstate New York. I keep renewing it from the library because I do want to finish it.
- Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 This is a hard book to describe without spoiling it for you. At its core, it’s a psychological thriller with an unusual premise and some unexpected twists and turns.
- The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell 👍🏻👍🏻 The cover of the book describes it as a ‘Chilling Psychological Thriller’, but I really didn’t find it to be chilling, psychological or a thriller. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. But it was more a store of a dysfunctional family.
Phew…that was a lot!
I have a busy week this week. Lots of blog jobs, as well as painting a cabinet in my den!
I’ll catch you next week!